Drawing Lab: Drawing a response. Gareth Morgan 08 May 2014
One of the questions I needed to address at the start of Unit 2 was the incorporation of text into my drawings. I thought it would be interesting to see the different approaches used by MA Drawers when challenged to produce a drawing incorporating text.
Text is not just the domain of poster produces, but is used by a surprising diverse array of artists in their work. Some interesting examples are: Pen Mendonca (graphic facilitation), Bobby Baker (diary of drawings during her recovery from illness), Nigel Holmes (explanation graphics), John Callahan, James Gillray, Ralph Steadman and Steve Bell (political and social caricaturists and satirists), David Shigley, Richard Prince and Jenny Holzer (visual artists).
There is a rich history in the production of drawings in response to news, politics & social issues. These drawings range from high art, to satirical cartoons in the broadsheet press to street art & murals. This drawing lab aims to look at the different the elements of these drawings and the different ways components can be combined. To get the maximum return from the Drawing lab I tried to suggest a potentially wide range of drawings styles could be used and gave examples of the work of some successful exponents of this genre – commenting on politics, possibly just the George W Bush’s administration.
The idea was to produce a drawing in response to a current issue. Again the remit was deliberately made as wide as possible, it could be something from the in the news from politics to entertainment – sports, film, cuisine, art etc or something more esoteric. A number of newspapers and magazines, online new & social media were provided for inspiration.
The class was to discuss a range of targets for their drawings, and the common methodology used to produce satirical images. Having thought about the composition of their drawing, we set about creating them. . .
My first observation was the all male make up of the class.
Discussion: The Turner Prize, Dignitas, the property market, trade union strikes, cultural similarities & differences, news browsing, origins of the “news bug”, celebrity, Russian expansionist policy & (of course with 5 blokes in a room) football.
Gavin’s first thoughts were around “Today’s news is tomorrow’s fish and chips paper”, drawn on parchment paper in reference to the grease proof paper the poplar take-a-way pair are traditionally served up into. He also commented on the composition of the The Turner Prize shortlist & the a perceived bias to moving image art. In the final drawing he dwelt on how the new likes to generate & conform to it’s own stereotypes.
We see non verbal communication in the fish & chips on it’s greaseproof paper. A mix of works and text in Turner Prize camera recording a hare charging through a version of Turner’s “Rain, Steam and Speed – The Great Western Railway”. In the final drawing Gavin completes the format journey by making his point entirely with words.
Martin misheard something on the radio and constructed an entertaining pun, combining Dignitas “Right-to-die” motto with another ongoing news storey in the government’s assisted buying “Help to buy” scheme aimed at first time buyers.
Martin has gone for a pocket cartoon style in which we can clearly see his think & workings. The cartoon contains text to indicate the Dignatas building (it relies on the viewer knowing the Dignita’s philosophy) outside the building stands a mildly confused first-time buyer scrutinising a paper detailing the property ladder. The cartoon tagline carries the pun.
Curiously, Ren was more interested in using social media to look at other website users reaction to the news rather than the news itself. On his Facebook page several non-British nationals were struggling with concept of a strike by British transport workers. He worked this into cartoon incorporating the strike, the effects on the strike being of as much interest to vistors to London as the traditional attractions. We see a tourist guide gang speaking in front of a group of tourists who are photographing a static train enjoying a cup of tea & transport worker whose British authenticity conformed by the tired slogan on his placard. Ren explains the context and action by using text in a speech speech bubble & on a placard, he has also used symbolism in the cup of tea, the tourist’s camera and the striker’s placard.
Shaun was amused by the news Brian May (the lead guitarist of the noisy rock band Queen) & wife Anita Dobson (TV’s Angie Watts, the proprietor of the Queen Vic in Eastendland) are unamused by their neighbours apparently turning their upmarket Kensington home into a ‘hellhole’ with their constant building works. Shaun used text to emphasis these points on a drawing of large stucco fronted villa replete with wrecking ball(!) to demonstrate the rebuilding progress. Shaun had initial reservations about satirical drawings we he felt were incomplete and exaggerated & not in keeping with his own style.
All participants of the Drawing Lab came up with interesting, original, amusing & successful satirical sketches of a surprisingly wide variety. Martin submitted his cartoon for publication in the satirical magazine Private eye.
The participants used text in fairly routine manner – no suprises might be expected from such a small sample size – but I am struck by the use of symbolism, which is something I will take forward and conscientiously experiment with in my own practice.
If I re-ran the Drawing Lab I would timetable more time for it, as unfortunately time ran out on the drawing lab leaving the participant’s rushed or unfinished.
Drawing lab (08/05/14): Drawing a response.
Materials. Anything goes. Whatever you chose to draw with.
Place: Center of Drawing.
Time: Thursday 8th May, 10:30 AM. 1 Hr 40 min.
Topic: There is a rich history in the production of drawings in response to news, politics & social issues. These drawings range from high art, to satirical cartoons in the broadsheet press to street art & murals. This drawing lab aims to look at the different the elements of these drawings and the different ways components can be combined. Here are examples of the work of some successful exponents of this genre – commenting on politics, possibly just the George W Bush’s administration.
Drawing lab: Drawing a response.
Part 1: Decide on a target. 10 min.
Before the drawing lab identify a context, ideally, a current issue to draw about. This could be something from the in the news from politics to entertainment – sports, film, cuisine, art etc or something more esoteric. A number of newspapers and magazines will be provided for inspiration.
Discussion: What is your target, what are the issues, what is your idea? 10 min.
Part 2: Plan out the drawing. 20 min.
Sketch out your drawing, experiment with different formats & structures. Things to consider are:
Comment: Is your drawing is making a political or social comment?
Contention: What is the contention?
Tone: Is the tone serious, funny, dark and gloomy, witty or biting, factual?
Irony: Will you use irony?
Situational irony: i.e. absurd, ironic situations based on coincidence or unexpected events.
Linguistic irony: the use of ironic language such as puns, sarcasm and hidden messages.
Components: What are the different elements?
Will it be a single panel or a cartoon strip?
Symbols: Cartoonists often use symbols to convey complex ideas with an economy of detail. Flags, animals, light bulbs etc. . .
Text: Will text be used to explain the drawing. If so, what, how & where?
Caricature: Caricature is often used for immediate dramatic effect.
Discussion/Analysis: Is your drawing working? Is it over or under complex? Is it clear what your drawing is about? How it be improved? 10 min
Part 3: Draw your idea. 40-60 min.
Draw your idea. Hurry, the editor, public and/or the police are looking for it. Display drawings & consider their attributes: structure, message, issue, mechanism, impact, similarities, differences, success etc.
Discussion. 10 plus min.